Spinner Harbhajan Singh said Australian fans love him despite his clashes with the home players during the tour which ended last week. "They are a great team and that is why it made our victory special, beating the world champions in their own backyard," Harbhajan told NDTV in an interview telecast on Tuesday.
"I firmly believe that deep down inside Australians love me... They always like a fighter," he said. The channel provided an English transcript of the interview conducted in Hindi.
Harbhajan was at the centre of several disputes with Australian players during the tour, where India lost the test series 2-1 but ended on a high after taking the tri-series finals 2-0.
He was banned for three tests for making an alleged racial remark against Andrew Symonds during the second test in Sydney but the suspension was overturned on appeal and reduced to a fine after the charge was downgraded.
The Australian board then reprimanded opener Matthew Hayden after he called Harbhajan an "obnoxious weed" during a radio interview.
The Indian board directed the bowler on Sunday against making controversial media comments after Cricket Australia (CA) demanded action against Harbhajan for attacking Hayden and Adam Gilchrist in an interview on his return home.
However, Harbhajan could not resist commenting on Hayden, who had also light-heartedly challenged teenage fast bowler Ishant Sharma to join him in the boxing ring. "I read somewhere that Hayden challenged Ishant Sharma to a boxing bout. But, from what I saw on the cricket field Ishant beat Hayden in that boxing match."
Asked whether he fancied taking on the well-built Hayden in the ring, Harbhajan said: "No way, you can't match the Australians as far as strength is concerned. "But yes, if he managed two punches on me I would also land at least one punch on him."